Labour Party senator Mary Moran has said Louth is leading the way when it comes to taking care of older people and providing the facilities they need.
Senator Moran was speaking during a Seanad debate on the rights of older people.
She said Louth was the first Irish county and one of 33 places worldwide, to meet the criteria of the World Health Organisation global age-friendly cities and communities network.
“I have also been fortunate in recent months to see at close hand the work that is being done in Louth and in particular in Dundalk which aims to make it a great place to grow old,” Senator Moran said.
“In my meetings with the team at the Netwell Centre at Dundalk Institute of Technology and from the presentation they gave here in the AV room at the end of February, I have become increasingly aware of the potential that exists for ensuring that Ireland becomes one of the greatest countries to grow old in. “We have to recognise firstly that people of all ages benefit when communities are designed to be age friendly, and when older people live healthy, active and fulfilled lives.
“In the compiling of this report two major themes emerged from across the submissions heard; the need for the rights for older people to be enshrined in a formal way and recognised, and the need to support and encourage independent living at home for as long as possible.
“Sometimes listening to reports in the media one would think that a majority of elderly people are spending their latter years in residential care but of course this is far from the truth. The vast majority of our elderly citizens are living at home and that’s where they choose to live. We must ensure that this choice is available to everyone who wants it by supporting elderly people in their own communities. How can we do this? By ensuring that services and supports for older people are made more responsive, caring, professional and accessible through imaginative and cost-effective partnerships.
“The group Older and Bolder in their submission drew attention to the whole area of information and accessibility to services. One of the main focus areas of the Nestling Project in Dundalk has been making contact with elderly people through home visits, groups and a dedicated volunteer phone line, ensuring that information is relayed about services and activities.